With the feigned enthusiasm of a tired band returning to the stage for a perfunctory encore, the stars of the “Pitch Perfect” films return for an a cappella victory lap before capping the series at three. Is there much to this final installment? No. But to quote a song as tired as most of the chestnuts the Bellas sing, if you don’t expect too much from it, you might not be let down.
The 400-Word Review: Pitch Perfect 3
By Sean Collier
December 26, 2017
With most of the crew having graduated in Pitch Perfect 2, the former singers have hit adulthood. Beka (Anna Kendrick) is a rising producer at a record company; Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) is something of a street performer; Chloe (Brittany Snow) is trying to get into vet school. When the current Bellas, led by earnest Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), invite the alums to an event, Aubrey (Anna Camp) pitches a USO tour.
Pitch Perfect 3 teeters on the line between knowing self-parody and honest effort; while the characters do manage to joke about the repetitive nature of this third chapter, the script (by Kay Cannon and, surprisingly, Mike White) does cartwheels to shoehorn in throwbacks to the previous films — yup, another riff-off. (And yet hardly any attempt is made to justify the fact that Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins are still following these characters around. Allegedly, they’re filming a documentary, but ... really, did we need more of the same quips from those two?)
The first film was a (quite good) comedy in a traditional mold, with wacky moments paired with a classic collegiate underdog story; the second was a more trite, if still enjoyable, finding-yourself fable. This third chapter is ... well, whatever will eat up some time, really. Beka quits her producing gig after refusing to kowtow to a hapless hitmaker, but impresses DJ Khaled (who is just all over this movie) on the USO tour. And Fat Amy ... you know what, this sentence needs its own paragraph.
Fat Amy is visited by her estranged father (John Lithgow) (no really, John Lithgow), who charms his way into her good graces in an attempt to con her out of her previously unmentioned multi-million dollar fortune, eventually kidnapping and holding the other Bellas for ransom — necessitating a frenetic, action-sequence rescue attempt.
I’m not making any of that up, but I don’t blame you for not believing me. It’s all amusing enough. They sing, they dance, it’s fine.
My Rating: 6/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark